Dan Cates, aka Jungleman, might be known as one of the best online players in history, but he showed that his talents run much deeper than that on Saturday. The sometimes eccentric pro beat a world-class field in the WSOP Players Championship to win his first bracelet and almost $1 million.
For anyone betting on the WSOP, putting money on Cates to win his first WSOP bracelet in a Mixed Game event would have been a longshot. Although he’s played in some of the richest cash games on the planet, he’s best known for being an elite Hold’em and Omaha player. Therefore, the odds on him defeating a field of Mixed Games experts would have been long at the start of the 2021 WSOP.
Dan Cates Mixes It Up and Silences the Doubters
However, as he often does, Cates silenced the doubters by coming out of nowhere to win the $50,000 event on Saturday. The final day started with five players in the mix. Veteran pro Eli Elezra was the man to beat but he quickly lost his chip lead to three-time bracelet winner Ryan Leng. That gave Leng enough firepower to oust Chris Brewer and move into a commanding position with four left.
Elezra fought back numerous times, but it wasn’t his day. The high stakes legend eventually bowed out in fourth place after Paul Volpe took the remainder of his chips during a round of Razz. That elimination gave Volpe enough of a stack to challenge Leng and Cates, both of whom had been quietly collecting chips throughout the session. In fact, such was the table dynamics at this point that it took a few hours to separate the final three.
From Omaha Hi-Lo and 2-7 Triple Draw to Seven Card Stud, none of the variants could drive a wedge between Leng, Cates, and Volpe. Something eventually had to give, and it was during a round of Limit Hold’em that it happened. Volpe was all-in on a T♣ 2♥ Q♠ flop with K♠ 6♥. Cates called with K♦ 2♠ and spiked a deuce on the turn. The 7♠ on the river couldn’t save Volpe and, with that, the WSOP Players Championship was down to two.
Jungleman Wins First WSOP Bracelet in Style
Cates was way ahead at this point. With almost 17 million chips to Leng’s 2.9 million, the tournament was all but over. However, Leng was battling for his fourth bracelet, and he wasn’t going down without a fight. Unfortunately, Cates was dressed up like a character from Street Fighter. That seemed to give him more power than usual. Although he stopped short of letting out a “hadouken” (a special attack from Street Fighter), he did unleash a barrage of bets that pummeled Leng into submission.
Limit Hold’em put the final nail in Leng’s coffin. He was all-in with T♦ 5♠ with the board showing A♥ J♥ T♥. Cates had possibilities with Q♣ 3♦ and one of those possibilities duly arrived on the turn. The Q♥ on fourth street put Cates ahead and the 3♠ on the river sealed the deal. With that, the WSOP Players Championship was over and Leng was sent to the rail in second.
$50,000 WSOP Players Championship Result
- Dan Cates - $954,020
- Ryan Leng - $589,628
- Paul Volpe - $404,243
- Eli Elezra - $286,983
- Chris Brewer - $211,235
WSOP Win Means More than Money to Dan Cates
Dan Cates closed out the Mixed Game event in style, and not just because he had green hair and a waistcoat. The American proved that he’s more than a one-dimensional player and reaffirmed his position as one of the poker’s best. However, on a personal level, the win means much more than money and status.
Speaking to the WSOP’s media team after his victory, Cates said that the money will help his charitable efforts. He also paid his respect to the late Chip Reese, the man who the Players Championship winner’s trophy is named after.
What’s next for Cates? Well, in addition to going on some hikes and hitting the gym, he’s taking aim at the WSOP Main Event. However, he made it clear that he can’t be in “god mode” again, but he will try his best to win a WSOP second bracelet.